FM Meets: East London riser JAMES SMITH

District Line EP is very much a nostalgic EP - looking back and letting go. The title represents my teenage years, growing up in East London.
14th April 2021

By Frank Bell

From humble beginnings to being one of the most prominent singer-songwriters to break through over the past couple of years, James Smith has not only carved a unique space in the soundscape with his blissful acoustic music but has done so with earnest hard work. Having just released his District Line EP, it is clear how down to earth this artist is, with the project taking shape around James’ personal journey, both literally and metaphorically, along the District Line – a place where he read books, discovered new music, consoled heartbreak, laughed and ultimately wrote this EP. We had a chat with James about the project, the lead up to this point and what more is to come…

Hey James, how are you? What have you been up to recently?

I’m good thank you! I’ve been busy with new music! I’m trying not to rush out the next lot, as I want it to be the best everrr! But it means that it’s driving me mad listening to the same songs a million times a day aha! 

We love your new EP ‘District Line EP’, can you tell us a little bit about it…

Thanks so much! So this EP is a handful of songs that were birthed on the District Line (a tube line we have in London). Each song started as a voice note on my phone that I had made whilst traveling. The songs are pretty much all about a relationship I was in a few years ago, I hope for this project to be my final goodbye to that chapter in my life. I feel like I’ve sung about this particular heartbreak a lot, so the EP encapsulates that ‘letting go’ attitude I have towards the relationship. It also represents me and how I grew up with my music and love-life, they seem to fit hand-in-hand. This is very much a nostalgic EP – looking back and letting go. The title represents my teenage years, growing up in East London. 

You produced the entire project yourself, that’s really cool, where/how did you learn to produce?

I did indeed! I have a little set up at my Mum’s house (which she hates because I make a lot of noise lol). I started producing when I was about 17! I think it stemmed from the fact that I hated sessions and being with producers that would force their vibe onto my songs! I wanted to be completely authentic with my music and I feel like learning to produce helped me to do that. I’ve learned a lot from my manager Geeneus (Rinse FM) who has produced a lot of big records in his time – he showed me the ropes on Logic from a young age! He likes to think that I’m his prodigy lol. 

You’re also producing for other artists, such as Sasha Keable, how did that come about?

Sasha is a good friend and she asked me to help her with figuring out some bits on her new project! I ended up producing the whole project – which sounds bloody amazing btw! Very excited for that to come out this year. 

What’s your favourite track from the project and why?

District Line is my favourite track because it is so nostalgic. It takes me back to being about 12 years old, sitting on the tube listening to Bob Dylan’s love songs. This song is the sort of thing that made me fall in love with music when I was a kid. It’s so simple but it really gets me every time I hear it! 

You’ll be performing at Scala this coming September, what are you looking forward to most about playing live again?

I CAN’T WAIT. I think I’m most excited to just see all my supporters again! We had a really good thing going before the pandemic, it was like a little family. They’d come to every show! So to see their faces singing the new music again will be ACE! 

What else is to come for James Smith this year?

Hopefully the start of an album campaign and some HITSSSS!!!!!! I’m sitting on some really big tunes…fingers crossed. 

And finally, who would your 3 most played artists on Spotify be?

Paolo Nutini, Maddison Cunningham, D’Angelo 



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